I love having home canned tomatoes for soups and chili during the winter, but I really am not fond of canning them. Although it is time consuming, the process itself is pretty simple. So what’s the big deal you may ask? I hate peeling the tomatoes. I always burn my fingers. Probably because I’m always in a hurry to get them done-did I mention it can be time consuming?
Well last year, I decided to try something different to speed up the process (yes I cheat in the kitchen if possible 🙂 ) and it worked like a charm. I’ll never go back to the old way again! This year, I told a friend of mine how I did them and she said the same thing. So what did I do that was so revolutionary? Here’s the process-step by step just in case your new to the process.
1. Wash your tomatoes and separate any bad ones.
2. Cut the tops (vine end) off the tomatoes. Don’t worry about coring them. Quarter them almost all the way through. (This part is optional but helps for the next step.)
3. Now for the best part. Fill your blender (I use and recommend Vitamix) full of those tomatoes (yep, skins and all) and blend until the consistency you like. I blend mine on one of the lowest setting until they are blended into small chunks. Ahhh-no boiling and peeling and no burnt fingers!!
(From here on out, you will follow general canning guidelines.)
4. Pour pureed tomatoes into pot and boil. I usually boil mine 30-45 minutes to get a thicker consistency, but that is up to you. Just make sure you get them to a boil and you are good. And yes, they will get foamy. This is completely normal and I usually skim most of this off. Feel free to add any salt or seasoning during this time.
5. While your tomatoes are boiling, you will need to get your jars ready. Place a canning rack (or towel if you don’t have a rack) into the bottom of a large pot. If your jars set directly on the bottom of the pot, they have a greater chance of cracking, so this step is important! Fill the pot about 1/4 full of water then fill your clean jars completely full of water and place them into the pot. Cover and begin boiling the water. This will sterilize the jars. It does not matter if you use pint or quart size or mix them. I usually can my tomatoes in quart jars, but like to add 1 pint since I usually end up with a half full jar if I don’t. (See my little pint jar in the middle.)
6. Place your clean bands to your jars into a smaller pot full of water and begin boiling them also. Don’t put the lids into the boiling water though! It could damage the rubber seal preventing it from sealing. Just clean them with soap and water and as you begin placing your tomatoes into the jars, you will dip the lids into hot water to kill any germs on them.
7. Once your tomatoes are boiling or to the consistency you want, turn off the tomatoes and the pot with the bands in it. Remove your jars from the pot of water and pour the water from the jars into the pot. You can now fill your jars. I purchased this canning set when I first started canning and it has been well worth the little I spent on it. If you did not add salt earlier, you can add it now, but it is still optional. You will need to add Citric Acid or Lemon Juice to each jar to raise the acidity and keep your tomatoes an undesirable host for bacteria. Add 1/4 tsp Citric Acid per pint or 1/2 tsp per quart or add 1 TBS lemon juice per pint or 2 TBS lemon juice per quart. As you fill each jar, dip the lid into the pot with the bands to heat it then place it on your jar with the band and hand tighten.
8. Place the filled jar, back into the large pot. Once all your jars are filled and placed back into the large pot of water, you will need to boil them. Make sure the water level is at least to the necks of the jars (this is why you emptied the water from your jars into the pot). Cover your pot and boil for 45 min.
9. Once done remove the jars and set on a counter to cool. Make sure to label the jars. The jars and bands can be reused, but the lids cannot be reused so most people label these.
10. Sit down, relax and enjoy the fact that you have fresh tomatoes canned and ready for winter! This makes it worth all the effort. (Although I hope this makes the effort less than usual and you’ll be saying “I’ll never can tomatoes the old way again!)
Happy Canning and Herbing It Up!
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